Thursday, January 31, 2008

My endorsement

I know postings have been light, but I promise that over the weekend, in advance of "Super Tuesday," I will satisfy the fevered anticipation of the blogosphere and announce whom I'm voting for in the CT primary.

If you have any arguments backing either Clinton or Obama, I'd love to hear them.


Rednecks feel under-represented by Clinton, Obama

It would be difficult to pick the most inane news story about the 2008 presidential race, but this has got to be a contender.

These states are among four in the South voting in primary elections on Tuesday (the others are Alabama and Georgia) in a region that went solidly for President Bush in the last two elections but where Democrats hope to make inroads this November, capitalizing on dissatisfaction with the Republicans. That hope may be unrealistic, even in the crucial swing states.

“I wish there was somebody worth voting for,” said Buford Moss, a retired Union Carbide worker sitting at the back table of Bucky’s Family Restaurant here, with a group of regulars, in a county seat that — as the home of the 11th president, James K. Polk — is one of the ancestral homelands of Jacksonian Democracy.

“The Democrats have left the working people,” Mr. Moss said.

“We have nobody representing us,” he continued, adding that he was “sad to say” he had voted previously for Mr. Bush. He was considering sitting out this election altogether. “Anyone but Obama-Osama,” he said, chuckling at a designation that met with mirthful approval at the table.

In interviews around the courthouse square, voters stuttered over Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama in matchups with Republicans, particularly Senator John McCain, whose military credentials give him solid regional armoring. Some white voters voiced outright alarm over Mr. Obama, and though he is a Christian, allusions to his supposed Muslim ties were frequent, as were suggestions that he remained a disturbingly unknown quantity.

White men, in particular, expressed general fearfulness — over a possible terrorist attack, over an unnamed threat from Muslims, over Hispanic immigrants and over the weakening economy. These fears led them to reflect positively on Republican candidates, perceived as more hard-line on most fronts.

Shit. Southern white men who probably haven't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since LBJ might vote Republican this year?

Meant to post on this yesterday, but "The Man" is once again making demands on me during working hours.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

No Joementum for you!


I have it on good authority that the Minnesota Twins DID NOT demand one of Keith Hernandez's game-used athletic supporters in exchange for Johan Santana.

Imagine if you live in Minneapolis. It's the dead of winter and your GM just traded the best pitcher of the 21st century for Phil Humber and Carlos Gomez.



Shorter John McCain: I wouldn't nominate a judge like Alito because he "wears his conservatism on his sleeve." John Roberts, though, is my ideal judge, because he lied about it.

Labels: ,

Monday, January 28, 2008

Live blogging preznit's 7th and maybe final State of the Union Address!

If I never hear the motherfucker's voice again, it'll be too soon.

Better dead than red

Man Dates

Uh oh, this doesn't sound too promising for the future of universal health care in this country.

The bill, which would offer coverage to millions of uninsured Californians, passed the State Assembly in December but began to stall in the Senate last week after the state’s legislative analyst raised questions about its financing and two prominent Democrats announced they would vote against it.

Chief among many Democrats’ concerns was the proposal of a so-called individual mandate, a stipulation requiring every Californian to pay for and maintain a minimum level of health insurance, though some residents would be exempt because of low income or financial hardship. A new board would negotiate rates with insurance companies, while employers would be required to spend a minimum amount on health care, though contributions would be capped.

But for some, the numbers did not add up.

“I just came to the conclusion that the working people are going to end up paying for it,” said Senator Leland Yee, Democrat of San Francisco, who announced his opposition before a committee meeting last Wednesday. “There’s control for everybody else — the employers are protected and the insurance industry. The only group that’s vulnerable is the working people.”

Asked to surmise its odds of passage on Monday, Mr. Yee was blunt. “I wouldn’t bet 5 cents on it,” he said.

Mandates -- you know, those things Krugman repeatedly takes Obama to task for omitting from his plan -- seem to be the rocks against which the Cali governor's bill is crashing. Maybe Obama senses something Krugman doesn't; that, politically, mandates are distrusted by both sides of the debate. Whether "universal" health care can be achieved without them is the 1.2 billion dollar question.


Blue Monday, Jimmy Rogers edition

Walking By Myself

Labels: ,

Football and the WOD

Lawrence Tynes, who after missing two field goals in the final minutes of regulation last week was very nearly told to make his own travel plans home, only to be redeemed in overtime, has bigger things on his mind.

May 5, 2003, was Tynes’s 25th birthday. With plans to celebrate that night, he drove toward Mark’s house. He did not see his brother.

“There were Suburbans and bags and vans and people in and out of his place,” Tynes said. “And I said, ‘Oh, wow.’ I turned around and went home.”

He was not entirely surprised. Federal agents had simultaneously raided three homes. Among those arrested were Mark Tynes and four of Lawrence Tynes’s best friends — friends from the neighborhood “that I grew up with,” Tynes said.

Mark Tynes was pinned as the leader of an extensive operation that authorities said moved 3,600 pounds of marijuana from Texas to Florida over several years.

“If they would have said 10 years,” Lawrence Tynes said of his brother’s sentence, “I would have said, You know what? You deserve it. It’s tough love. I mean, you do the crime, you do the time.”

But Mark Tynes had a record, including felony convictions for possession. And he “paid a heavy penalty for refusing to cooperate,” a managing assistant United States attorney told The Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal after sentencing. The others cooperated fully. They became government witnesses. Lawrence Tynes watched as each testified against his brother.

“To me, they were all just as guilty as one another, because they were all doing it,” Tynes said.

Tynes should reserve his outrage for prosecutors who gave his brother 10 years for a non-violent crime, not the friends who were given a choice -- his brother or their life.

Labels: ,

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Jumping the shark?

I listened to Bill Clinton's comments referencing Jesse Jackson's wins in South Carolina in '84 and '88, and I guess I'm just not that incensed by them, specifically. However, I do think the "Bill gambit" the Clinton campaign employed there, though, has hurt them as, at best, it only had the effect of placing Hillary Clinton ahead of Dead Man Walking Edwards. A lot was riding on Bill bringing out the African-American vote for his wife, and it just wasn't very effective. It did succeed in having the effect of giving the appearance that they see themselves in a knife fight with a fellow Democrat. How much of that is real and not media driven is hard to say, but they (particularly Bill) were made to look as though they took this very, very personally. Not the happy warrior, either husband or wife. I understand. I empathize. But not attractive.

The CT primary is in a week. I still haven't decided whom I'll pull the lever for (this is the first primary I'll have voted in in which CT matters at all). But if the Clintons are really trying to paint Obama as "the black candidate," then I'm going to be a hell of a lot angrier about that then I am about any admiring comments Obama may make about a dead Ronald Reagan.

And, meanwhile, the fact that establishment Dems are endorsing Obama says a lot about the guy who isn't currently the front runner.

Labels: , ,

Friday, January 25, 2008

Wax Simulacra

Play nice while I'm out.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Small satisfaction

I don't have the time or the stomach to check, but I have a feeling the dead-enders aren't happy with the news this morning.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Feel. It.

“Today I have withdrawn my candidacy for President of the United States,” Mr. Thompson said in a statement. “I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort. Jeri and I will always be grateful for the encouragement and friendship of so many wonderful people.”

No. Thank you, Fred.



Postings will be lighter (but no less snarky) over the next several days.

Groaner, indeed

Damn you, political correctness! You have taken away our little jokes.

Oh Horrors, an Off-Color Black Joke!

By DemocracyRules
Here it is, from a recent Obama -- related event:
William R. Farr was pretending to read telegrams congratulating this year's award recipient, University of Colorado President Hank Brown, when he pulled out a piece of paper and said, "I have a telegram from the White House... they're going to have to change the name of that building if Obama's elected."I'd call it a dumb groaner, but of course the politically correct audience was outraged.

"The politically correct audience" the National Western Stock Show. Teh stupid.


Bling bling

Mitt's the one!

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Mitt Romney, whose 1950s manner and celebratory drink of choice call to mind a milkshake man more than a rap singer, gave a shout out Monday that left no doubt that he had spent little time listening to hip-hop.

Mr. Romney, the Republican candidate from Massachusetts by way of Michigan and Utah who enjoys a milkshake at the end of a long day, stopped by a staging area for a Martin Luther King Birthday parade here. In his dress shirt and tie, and with his unwavering smile, he walked over and posed for photographs with a group of black youngsters. Putting his arm around a teenage girl, he waved to the cameras and offered, “Who let the dogs out?” He added a tepid “woof woof.”

Somewhere, the Baha Men, the Bahamian group whose 2000 song the candidate was referencing, must have been shuddering.

Kevin Madden, one of Mr. Romney’s campaign boyz on the bus, said the candidate had been joking around and had responded to someone who asked, “Who let you out?”

Later, Mr. Romney admired a child’s gold necklace and said, “Oh, you’ve got some bling-bling here.”

He spoke of Dr. King at an earlier appearance in Jacksonville, calling him “an individual who showed in many respects how to bring down some of the barriers to fulfill the promise of the Declaration of Independence.”


Monday, January 21, 2008


I'm with Ezra on this one. Trying to guess which candidate Republicans will most viciously and effectively lie about is a fool's game.

Is that argument right? I'm not sure. But it seems equally plausible to me. Which largely underlines my belief that trying to game out who is the most electable -- rather than, say, the best proven campaigner -- is a tough game. I can confidently predict that if either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton lose to John McCain, lots of Democrats will bemoan the obviously idiotic decision to nominate a hated, polarizing harpy/inexperienced, urbane black man during a time of anxiety and unrest. Democrats, they'll say, can blow anything.

And to assume, as Hilzoy seems to, that Americans have grown more savvy and insightful when it comes to the attacks from the Right, well...I've got a Madrasa to sell her.

That said, Hilzoy's other point, about Obama's vs. Clinton's actual voting records, is interesting.

Labels: , ,

Blue Monday, Jimmy Witherspoon edition

Ain't Nobody's Business.


"I'm with stupid"

No need to read the papers or follow the polls. If you want to know who the GOP front runner is on any given week, just read Kristol on Monday.

Labels: ,

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today's "must read:" Sarah Vowell.

IN 1983, Ronald Reagan signed a bill honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a federal holiday. Reagan opposed it, but back then, in the olden times of checks and balances, the vote by 338 representatives and 78 senators establishing the holiday threatened certain veto override.

So there was the president in the White House Rose Garden pretending to enjoy turning this drain on the Gross National Product into law. Perhaps he comforted himself that the American people, who can turn something as dead serious as Memorial Day into a clambake, would somehow find a way to use a football season Monday venerating a murder victim to sleep off their beer and nachos hangovers of the preceding afternoon.

Still, there’s a pleasing symmetry in Reagan forking over a day to Dr. King. Both men owe their reputations to the Sermon on the Mount. The president’s most enduring bequest might be a city-smiting drug war, but thanks to a nice smile and a biblical sound bite that’s not how he’s remembered. Reagan cribbed from the Gospel of Matthew via the Puritan John Winthrop to dream up his “shining city on a hill” legacy. And Americans in general and Republican presidential candidates in particular still believe in it, probably because they’re not watching “The Wire.”

Here’s what Dr. King got out of the Sermon on the Mount. On Nov. 17, 1957, in Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, he concluded the learned discourse that came to be known as the “loving your enemies” sermon this way: “So this morning, as I look into your eyes and into the eyes of all of my brothers in Alabama and all over America and over the world, I say to you: ‘I love you. I would rather die than hate you.’ ”

Go ahead and re-read that. That is hands down the most beautiful, strange, impossible, but most of all radical thing a human being can say. And it comes from reading the most beautiful, strange, impossible, but most of all radical civics lesson ever taught, when Jesus of Nazareth went to a hill in Galilee and told his disciples, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you.”


Suzanne Pleshette

I can't tell you how much I coveted Bob Newhart's "wife" when I was eight.

Funny thing is, I didn't know until I read her obituary this morning that "Suzanne Pleshette" -- a name that oozed sexuality for me -- was her real name.


Friday, January 18, 2008

100 years ago

Via David Pinto, I strongly recommend a visit here.

Welcome to the daily news scene from almost a hundred years ago, as photographed by the Bain News Service in about 1910-1912. We invite your tags and comments! Also, lots more identification information. (Most of these old photos came to the Library of Congress with very little description.)

This selected set of 1,500 photographs is from a large collection of almost 40,000 glass negatives. The entire collection spans 1900-1920 and richly documents sports events, theater, celebrities, crime, strikes, disasters, and political activities, with a special emphasis on life in New York City.


It's not a bug, it's a feature

Damn, what a surprise coming from Mr. 911.


Bobby Fischer

You have no idea, kids, how big a deal he was -- and chess was -- at the time.

The world championship match against the elegant Spassky was an unforgettable spectacle, the cold war fought with chess pieces in an out-of-the-way place. Mr. Fischer’s characteristic petulance, loutishness and sense of outrage were the stuff of front page headlines all over the globe. Incensed by the conditions under which the match was to be played — he was particularly offended by the whirr of television cameras in the hall — he lost the first game, then forfeited the second and insisted the remaining games be played in an isolated room the size of a janitor’s closet. There, he roared back from what, in chess, is a sizable deficit, trouncing Mr. Spassky, 12 ½to 8 ½. (In championship chess, a victory is worth one point, a draw a half-point for each player.) In all, Mr. Fischer won 7 games, lost 3 (including the forfeit) and drew 11.

Through July and most of August, the attention of the world was riveted on the Spassky-Fischer match. Americans who didn’t know a Ruy Lopez from a Poisoned Pawn watched a hitherto unknown commentator named Shelby Lyman explain each game on public television. All this was Mr. Fischer’s doing. Bobby Fischer the rebel, the enfant-terrible, the tantrum-thrower, the uncompromising savage of the chess board, had captured the imagination of the world. Because of him, for the first time in the United States, the game, with all its arcana and intimations of nerdiness, was cool. And when it was over, he walked away with a winner’s purse of $250,000, a sum that staggered anyone ever associated with chess. When Mr. Spassky won the world championship, his prize was $1,400.

Mr. Fischer’s victory was widely seen as a symbolic triumph for Democracy over Communism, and it turned the new champion into an unlikely American hero. He was invited to the White House by President Richard M. Nixon, interviewed on television, hounded by journalists, wooed unsuccessfully by commercial interests. Sales of chess sets skyrocketed; so did fees for chess lessons, as scores of poverty-stricken chess players benefited from the cachet that Mr. Fischer had conferred on them.

People watched the matches on TV. Even in bars.

Labels: ,


I was thinking about this last night.

WITHDRAWAL....Over at TPM, William Hartung reviews the bidding and concludes that "this week's Democratic presidential debate underscored the fact that none of the party's frontrunners supports a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq any time soon." He recommends reading the timeline put together by the Washington Post's Michael Dobbs to get a good sense of just where Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama stand on the subject.

Bottom line: although Obama has been consistent in opposing the invasion, he and Hillary have taken pretty similar positions on withdrawal since then. I'd say that's about right, and over the past few months what few disagreements they had have been sanded down even more. I have a very hard time really seeing any daylight between them at this point.

No one is really talking about this, but what will it do to the new president's "timetable for withdrawal," when he or she is reminded that we're just now putting the finishing touches on the Popeye's franchises on the permanent military bases and that we've finally fixed the annoying plumbing problem in the largest embassy every built?

Just sayin'.


Ring of Fire

Way, way cool, ironically.

Labels: ,

"People I respect."

Chris Matthews is a very, very strange individual.

People like me who care about this country think I've been disrespectful to Hillary Clinton, not as a candidate but as a woman.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Falling flat

In a way, this is a good thing. Not so long ago, the audience would have laughed uproariously. More recently, they probably would have tittered "politely." That a racist joke caused nothing but shocked gasps at the National Western Stock Show is a sign that, if nothing else, things are getting better.


Jonah the whale

Via Roy, sounds like Goldberg had a rough evening of it.

Re: Fresh Hell, Served Daily [Jonah Goldberg]

Mark - Thanks. Yeah, I knew I was in trouble when the interview just wouldn't end — and I got the sense it wasn't ending because Stewart didn't feel like he "won" so he had to keep going. I haven't watched it (though I pretty much never watch myself on TV), but I knew that editing wasn't going to help me. Still, I also went in knowing I wasn't going to get a supportive reaction from the guy. Anyway, more thoughts tomorrow perhaps.

Giving new meaning to the term "doughy pantload."

Labels: ,

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mud season

Ramblin' man

It occurred to me last night that preznit's sudden interest in visiting Israel and the Middle years into his regency....must be because someone told him he'd better start racking up those frequent flier miles on Air Force One while he still can.

Labels: ,

But I thought God wrote the Constitution

Wow. Just wow.

“I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that’s what we need to do — is to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than try to change God’s standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family.”

Excellent idea, Huckster. (Deut. 13, 13-18)

13. Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known;

14. Then shalt thou enquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you;

15. Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword.

16. And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street thereof, and shalt burn with fire the city, and all the spoil thereof every whit, for the LORD thy God: and it shall be an heap for ever; it shall not be built again.

17. And there shall cleave nought of the cursed thing to thine hand: that the LORD may turn from the fierceness of his anger, and shew thee mercy, and have compassion upon thee, and multiply thee, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers;

18. When thou shalt hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep all his commandments which I command thee this day, to do that which is right in the eyes of the LORD thy God.

I think that may be a reference to Salt Lake City, but I could be wrong. One thing's for certain, though, we'd finally clear up those confusing dietary laws. Say g'bye to the FDA:

Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Mitchell proceedings

Selig, Fehr, and Mitchell testify today. Let the games begin. But I will once again point out that the U.S. government is bringing it's full weight and power against two individuals for allegedly using illegal substances to enhance their ability to play baseball. Now, I never liked Clemens. Like a lot of Yankee fans we rooted for him in pinstripes and we wanted him to win because we wanted the team to win. But we winced when the Yankees signed him and winced more at his antics.

That said, the Dept of Justice compelled the man's former trainer to finger his boss. The DoJ, unable to prove McNamee's insertions, instead compelled him to talk to Mitchell's investigators. So, the DoJ is letting Mitchell and Congress to bring the charges the DoJ, for all of its investigative powers, wouldn't.

Technically, the deals requiring McNamee and Radomski to cooperate with Mitchell probably don't violate grand jury secrecy laws, because those laws bind prosecutors, agents, and grand jurors, but not witnesses like McNamee and Radomski. And technically, those deals might not have violated DoJ policy on uncharged third parties, inasmuch as Clemens and other players weren't actually named in official filings or in a federal courtroom. But using plea bargaining leverage to require witnesses to divulge to Mitchell the names of people the Justice Department never intended to prosecute surely violated the purposes of both grand jury secrecy law and DoJ policy.

With the authority granted prosecutors to make life-altering accusations goes the obligation to prove them. Here, the U.S. Attorney's Office made no individual assessment of the strength of the allegations by Radomski and McNamee against dozens of players. It never winnowed the provable cases from the mere rumors or unprovable assertions. Instead, prosecutors forced flipped witnesses to reveal everything they knew or had heard to Mitchell and walked away from the responsibility to prove any of it.

Don't know about you, but that bothers me.

Labels: ,

The editors and their new columnist

Yesterday, William the Bloody took us to task for not being adequately ponyfied over the latest developments in Iraq.

And now Iraq’s Parliament has passed a de-Baathification law — one of the so-called benchmarks Congress established for political reconciliation. For much of 2007, Democrats were able to deprecate the military progress and political reconciliation taking place on the ground by harping on the failure of the Iraqi government to pass the benchmark legislation. They are being deprived of even that talking point.

Today, his employers don't seem convinced.

The Iraqi Parliament has finally done something that the Bush administration, and many others, considered essential to political progress in Iraq: it passed a law intended to open government jobs to former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party. What should have been heralded as an accomplishment, however, may only serve to further reinforce the bumbling nature of President Bush’s ill-conceived adventure in Iraq.

No one, it seems, has a clear sense of what the law will do. Some suggest it could actually exclude more former Baathists than it lets in — a sure-fire way to fuel political tensions rather than calm them.

Ah, those pesky benchmarks.

As Ezra says, now we know the central requirement the Times was looking for in a new columnist: an ability to lie.

Labels: ,


It's about time.

Arguing over civil rights merit badges among Obama and Clinton is stupid and counter-productive. The media is all too eager to see the decline and fall of the Democratic Party (this despite all evidence to the contrary...and the current crop of Republican presidential candidates). We don't need the candidates -- or their surrogates -- fanning those flames. If we want to continue to make progress on civil rights, if we want to end packing the courts with anti-democratic judges, it doesn't really matter which Democrat gets the nomination. It only matters that they're elected in November.

As long as there have been elections, there have been attempts to keep eligible people from voting. States and localities adopted poll taxes, literacy tests, “white primaries,” “malapportionment” — drawing district lines to give a small number of rural voters the same representation as a large number of urban voters — and restrictions on student voting. In recent decades, the Supreme Court has rejected all of them.

The court understood that the Constitution guaranteed a robust form of democracy and saw its clear value for the nation. During the tumultuous late-1960s, Chief Justice Earl Warren declared that most of the country’s problems could be solved through the political process if everyone “has the opportunity to participate on equal terms with everyone else and can share in electing representatives who will be representative of the entire community and not of some special interest.”

In recent years, however, with a conservative majority in place, the court has become increasingly hostile to voters. During the oral arguments in the Bush v. Gore case in 2000, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor showed disdain for voters who had trouble with Florida’s disastrous punch-card ballots. After insisting that the directions “couldn’t be clearer,” she suggested that the court ignore the ballots of voters who had failed to master the intricacies. That is precisely what it did, by a 5-4 vote.

Since Bush v. Gore, disdain for voters has become the norm. The court rejected two successive challenges to gerrymandered Congressional districts. One was Tom DeLay’s brazen redrawing of the lines in Texas, which all but guaranteed a Republican victory and made the voters seem irrelevant.

The justices also seem poised, if comments during oral arguments are any indication, to uphold New York’s undemocratic process for selecting state court judges. An appeals court rightly ruled against the system of shadowy nominating conventions, which allows political machines to thwart the will of the voters and handpick judges.

It might seem that today’s court is simply judicially restrained, deferring to rules adopted by the democratically elected branches. Recently, however, the court struck down parts of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law that limited “Swift boat” style attack ads on the eve of elections. It was perfectly willing to reverse a federal law when the political power of corporations and wealthy individuals was at stake.

The Indiana voter ID case should not be a hard one. Restrictions on voting are subject to heightened constitutional scrutiny, and the state cannot justify the enormous burdens the law imposes. There is no evidence that in-person vote fraud has ever occurred in the state, but there is considerable evidence that voters will be disenfranchised. Indiana could have deterred fraud in less harmful ways, including by accepting a wider range of ID’s.

Critics of the court are already dubbing the voter ID case Bush v. Gore II, and ascribing political motives. The Indiana law, like others nationwide, was pushed through by Republican legislators, evidently with the intent of reducing Democratic turnout.

The five conservative justices may like the fact that voter ID laws increase the odds that Republicans will hold on to the White House in 2008. Or they may have a disregard for poor and minority voters that transcends partisan politics. At the oral arguments, Chief Justice John Roberts suggested that if a voter has to travel 17 miles by bus to a clerk’s office to fight over whether his vote should count, it is no great concern since the trip is not “very far.”

When the court struck down parts of the McCain-Feingold law, Chief Justice Roberts emphasized that the Constitution “requires us to err on the side of protecting political speech rather than suppressing it.” When it comes to voters’ rights, the court appears eager to err in the opposite direction.

Things couldn't be more clear.

Labels: ,

Freedom is on the march

In Saudi Arabia. And let's make sure we arm both sides of a potential conflict between our "allies" with the most sophisticated weaponry possible.

The $20 billion package was proposed last summer as a counterweight to a new American commitment to provide Israel with $30 billion in military aid.

Labels: ,

Monday, January 14, 2008

There Will Be Blood

Driving home, I was thinking, "Was it a great movie, or a great performance." Yes, I guess. The first hour or so, it seemed as though the camera seemed to alternate its focus on either Day-Lewis' face or the landscape. Both seemed relentless. The music is deservedly acclaimed. Not surprisingly, it reminded me of Neil Young's music for "Dead Man," which had a similar relentless (that word again) tension, though the music in "Blood" is more of a complete, fully realized soundtrack.

The ending is unfairly maligned. I have to get Oil! to see if that's how the book ends as well...

...Probably not, but the ending feels like the last chapter of an early 20th century American social-realism novel, graphic and morbidly funny. The last line the character speaks is perfect, closing out the entire spectacle with a grin.


The Filipino Monkey?

You never know what -- or who -- is going to cause World War III (or is it IV, or V?) these days.


The View vs. Hardball

We finally understand where Chris Matthews stands in the spectrum of modern political discourse.

UPDATE: It occurs to me, however, that this implies a rough parity between Hardball and The View, which sounds just about right. In fact, if I ever open a bar, I shall call the ladies' room "The View" and the men's room "Hardball." I don't think anyone will have trouble figuring it out.


Johnny Podres

1932-2008, The boy of summer.

The powerful team that came to be known as the Boys of Summer seemed destined to fall short again in 1955, losing the first two games of the World Series to the Yankees. But Podres won Game 3 on his 23rd birthday, giving up seven hits in an 8-3 victory at Ebbets Field. The Dodgers won the next two games at home, but lost at Yankee Stadium in Game 6.

In a duel of left-handers, Podres was matched against Tommy Byrne in Game 7 at the Stadium. The Dodgers had a 2-0 lead, both runs driven in by Hodges, but in the sixth inning the Yankees had runners on first and second with nobody out when Yogi Berra hit a fly ball toward the left-field line that seemed about to drop for a double. Sandy Amoros, who had just come into the game, replacing Jim Gilliam in left field, saved the day for Brooklyn. After a long run, he reached out for a one-handed catch, then made a relay to Reese, the shortstop, who threw to Hodges, doubling Gil McDougald off first base.

Podres had been effective with his changeup early in the game. As the autumn shadows began to approach home plate, making it tougher for batters to see the pitches, he turned to his fastball. He stopped the Yankees the rest of the way, completing an eight-hitter by retiring them in order in the ninth inning. When Elston Howard grounded to Reese for the final out, Podres was mobbed, and Brooklyn erupted in ecstasy.


Monday dog blogging

Well, I couldn't make it through the whole video, but is it me, or is there a conspicuous absence of a family dog?

Labels: ,

The torture imperative

K-Lo helpfully informs us precisely what's wrong with McCain.

To Senator McCain, congratulations. But he has not got this thing wrapped up by any stretch. It’s less than a year since he tried to push a disastrous immigration bill into law — one as manipulative as any pork-laden appropriations bill — with vigorous opposition from talk radio, conservative bloggers, think tanks, and the grassroots. I don’t see how such a man wins the Republican nomination. I’m second to none in praising him on his surge leadership. But on a whole host of issues — including water boarding, tax cuts, and the freedom of speech — he’s not one of us. Rush Limbaugh has emphatically stated that McCain is not a conservative — and he has more than a few listeners with similar instincts. McCain’s not going to be handed this nomination. Conservatives suspect that he’s a recipe for heartache. Sure, they may not be enthused about anyone else in a united way, but I still can’t imagine that they’ll settle for McCain.

Has torture as a requirement become a central plank for the GOP's party platform? Lincoln would be so proud.

Via Hilzoy.

The vermin-like Ron Paul aside, is there a more misunderstood man in American politics? Maverick McCain is considered "ok" by too many liberals, and unacceptable by conservatives? McCain is a consistent conservative vote and has been for his entire career.

But he opposes torture and favors sane immigration policies. Unfit for the conservatism of National Review. Great.

Personally, I'm for K-Lo's love object. I want Romney to win the nomination if for no other reason than to watch his head snap as he suddenly re-embraces his centrist views on healthcare, gun control, and immigration.

Labels: ,

Mitt-mentum in Michigan

Feel it.


Blue Monday, James Cotton edition

Mannish Boy

Labels: ,

Friday, January 11, 2008

War. What is it good for?

Absolutely everything, if you're a member of the liberal media elite.

UPDATE II: Noam Scheiber at The New Republic says: "Mitt Romney sounded like a smart technocrat last night--his comments about the recent near-confrontation with Iran was detailed and impressive." Like this:
Of the six candidates, only Ron Paul said he thought the incident was being blown out of proportion.

"Let's put it in perspective. We have five small speedboats attacking the U.S. Navy with a Destroyer? They could take care of those speedboats in about five seconds. And here we're ready to start World War III over this? . . . . You know there are people in this administration and in Washington, D.C., that are looking for the chance" to bomb Iran, the 10-term Texas congressman said.

"I'm worrying about the policy of why we're looking for a justification . . . . I mean, we're already, with our CIA, being involved in trying to overthrow that government, and we don't need another war. And this incident should not be thrown out of proportion to the point where we're getting ready to attack Iran over this," Paul said.

Romney responded to that claim by saying, "I think Congressman Paul should not be reading as many of (Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad's press releases."

Just like the way people who doubted the Grave Iraqi Threat and who opposed starting a war with Iraq were "pro-Saddam." That's real "impressive."

Labels: ,

Rip this joint

Rock on, as Kit Seelye might say.


Casual suggestions

Another telling glimpse of life on the campaign bus.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Tiger Beat Times

Hey, Gail, if this shit bores you so goddamned much, go cover Brittany.

Meanwhile, Bob Somerby is howling.

It’s hard to know less than Chris typically does. Presumably, that’s why Jack Welch came to love him.

Labels: ,


So much for the House Oversight Committee to do.

Bush and Cheney are clearly guilty of numerous impeachable offenses. They have repeatedly violated the Constitution. They have transgressed national and international law. They have lied to the American people time after time. Their conduct and their barbaric policies have reduced our beloved country to a historic low in the eyes of people around the world. These are truly "high crimes and misdemeanors," to use the constitutional standard.

From the beginning, the Bush-Cheney team's assumption of power was the product of questionable elections that probably should have been officially challenged -- perhaps even by a congressional investigation.

In a more fundamental sense, American democracy has been derailed throughout the Bush-Cheney regime. The dominant commitment of the administration has been a murderous, illegal, nonsensical war against Iraq. That irresponsible venture has killed almost 4,000 Americans, left many times that number mentally or physically crippled, claimed the lives of an estimated 600,000 Iraqis (according to a careful October 2006 study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) and laid waste their country. The financial cost to the United States is now $250 million a day and is expected to exceed a total of $1 trillion, most of which we have borrowed from the Chinese and others as our national debt has now climbed above $9 trillion -- by far the highest in our national history.

All of this has been done without the declaration of war from Congress that the Constitution clearly requires, in defiance of the U.N. Charter and in violation of international law. This reckless disregard for life and property, as well as constitutional law, has been accompanied by the abuse of prisoners, including systematic torture, in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions of 1949.

I have not been heavily involved in singing the praises of the Nixon administration. But the case for impeaching Bush and Cheney is far stronger than was the case against Nixon and Vice President Spiro T. Agnew after the 1972 election. The nation would be much more secure and productive under a Nixon presidency than with Bush. Indeed, has any administration in our national history been so damaging as the Bush-Cheney era?

How could a once-admired, great nation fall into such a quagmire of killing, immorality and lawlessness?

But so little time.

The House committee looking into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball has postponed a hearing next week that was to feature Roger Clemens and his accuser so that the panel can begin its own investigation into Clemens’s adamant denial that he used such drugs.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the most powerful investigative panel in Congress, pushed the hearing to Feb. 13 from Jan. 16. At the same time, it announced plans to take sworn depositions before Feb. 13 from Clemens; his accuser and former personal trainer, Brian McNamee; the admitted steroids dealer Kirk Radomski; and two former Yankee teammates of Clemens — Andy Pettitte and Chuck Knoblauch — who have also been linked to drug use by McNamee.

The committee also plans to request — and, if necessary, subpoena — a tape of an interview that private investigators for Clemens’s lawyer conducted with McNamee, said a person in Congress familiar with the panel’s investigation. That interview, which lasted four hours, took place a day before George J. Mitchell issued his report on baseball’s “steroids era.”

I think that's answers Senator McGovern's question.

Whatever you think of Roger Clemens, consider this: Congress is using an incomplete and disingenuous Mitchell Report, and based on hearsay, testimony from a single desperate and disturbed individual, and a complete lack of physical evidence to go after a single man (believe me, Andy Pettitte and -- of all people -- Chuck Knoblauch are not in the committee's bullseye). That should terrify anyone.

Meanwhile, our democracy burns.

As an aside, there is one benefit of all this for Clemens. We have been treated in recent days to a barrage of footage of Clemens striking out batter after batter. And you know what? No amount of steroids can account for the vicious bite on what Clemens affectionately called, "Mr. Splitty." It's that split-fingered fastball that prolonged Clemens's career as he made the adjustment from the Red Sox power pitcher to the pitcher he became with the Blue Jays and the Yankees.

Labels: , ,

Bush v. Gore continues

The anti-democratic fallout from the preposterous decision grows even more evident, and if this doesn't tell you all you need to know about the Roberts court, then I don't know what will.

Under the Indiana law, voters who are turned away for lack of identification may cast provisional ballots, which are counted only if the voter travels to the county clerk’s office within 10 days to show the required identification or sign a sworn statement that he cannot afford to obtain such an identification. The plaintiffs have argued that this extra step and required travel create an unnecessary burden that other states with identification requirements do not impose; those states do not require voters to make a second trip in order to have a provisional counted.

Chief Justice Roberts, who grew up in Indiana, did not seem to find the burden excessive. “County seats aren’t very far for people in Indiana,” he said.

Mr. Smith replied that the county seat in Lake County was a 17-mile bus ride from the county’s urban center of Gary. “If you’re indigent, that’s a significant burden,” he said. The chief justice also seemed unimpressed by the absence of known voter impersonators. “It’s a type of fraud that, because it’s fraud, it’s hard to detect,” he said to Mr. Smith.

Dahlia Lithwick has more.

To recap: I fear I am counting five justices who believe that a nonexistent problem can be constitutionally cured by burdening the fundamental right to vote. Happy byproduct? Doing away with those pesky facial challenges that liberals like to use to address massive injustices. So in the guise of doing away with hypothetical future challenges to a law, the court is poised to uphold a law that solves hypothetical future problems in voting. And for those of you wondering why the court didn't see fit to release audio for today's monumentally important argument, the answer remains, who knows? But here's one guess: The justices didn't want to be caught on tape sounding like the same 5-4 court that decided Bush v. Gore, even if nothing has changed.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Inside the inner sanctum of the Times' vacuity

Everyone's all over MoDo for what has to be one of her most bizarre columns ever, but, as usual, Doghouse Riley hits the high note.

MoDo, for once inadvertently revealing details about the inner lives of "cabbies" "her co-workers", rather than herself:

When I walked into the office Monday, people were clustering around a computer to watch what they thought they would never see: Hillary Clinton with the unmistakable look of tears in her eyes.

A woman gazing at the screen was grimacing, saying it was bad. Three guys watched it over and over, drawn to the “humanized” Hillary. One reporter who covers security issues cringed. “We are at war,” he said. “Is this how she’ll talk to Kim Jong-il?”

Another reporter joked: “That crying really seemed genuine. I’ll bet she spent hours thinking about it beforehand.” He added dryly: “Crying doesn’t usually work in campaigns. Only in relationships.”

How would you know?

Labels: ,


Just in time, we have a reminder that for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, "bipartisanship" means only having to hear his whiny little voice.

After three years of litigation, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation agreed on Tuesday to back away from the main part of a controversial regulation limiting public events on the Great Lawn, in the heart of Central Park, to 50,000 people.

The decision to temporarily rescind provisions in the rule — formally put in place, the city said, to protect the lawn, but used in an early form to deny permits to antiwar demonstrators — was hailed by its critics as a victory for the First Amendment and for the public use of public land.

“It’s an enormous victory for New Yorkers and for everyone who comes to New York City, not only for their free-speech rights, but for their rights to public space that belongs to the people,” said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, a lawyer for the Partnership for Civil Justice, a public interest organization that challenged the regulation on behalf of two antiwar groups.

Full enforcement of the rule was temporarily set aside on Tuesday as part of a settlement agreement with the two antiwar groups, the National Council of Arab Americans and the Answer Coalition.

The groups sued the city in Federal District Court in Manhattan after they were denied a permit to hold a demonstration on the lawn days before the Republican National Convention in 2004. While the rule was not formally adopted until December 2005, officials said that the city had had an informal policy of protecting the lawn in place since 1997, when it spent $18.2 million to restore the area.

Labels: ,

It's Mitt!

Gosh, Mitt, do you think your spectacular finish in New Hampshire might have a little to do with your habit of trashing the neighbor state bolsheviks for whom you used to be governor?

Just asking. Good luck in Detroit, dude!

Labels: ,

I think I speak for the netroots

...when I say, now what the hell are we supposed to think? Are we supposed to be angry that the "DLC candidate" won, or thrilled that she vanquished all that bipartisan talk and that nasty Obama who dared argue with the great Krugman. What does sub-commander Kos direct?

Labels: ,

Acting lessons

I don't know if it's because "awards season" is nigh, but there sure are a lot of acclaim in the press for the supposed "acting performances" of our public figures these days, whether it's Roger Clemens ability to "appear angry" in a news conference or Hillary Clinton's new-found ability to "cry on cue."

In any case, curious thing seems to have happened on the way to the New Hampshire primary. I suspect a lot of voters stopped worrying about what the press and the pundits thought* of Clinton's "tearful meltdown" the other day, and instead stopped to actually listen to what she said.

"Some people think elections are a game. They think it's about who's up and who's down. But it's about our country."
Maybe she'd just been waiting for someone to ask her how she maintains her hair style through the rigors of campaigning to deliver that message, but it doesn't really matter. She was talking about the idiots on the bus and in the opinion columns who think this is all just a race of pantomime horses. Voters (maybe lots of female voters) heard her. The press didn't, and don't expect their hearing to get any better in the next few weeks and months.

[As an aside, I wonder if all the time spent in campaign events taking place in the high school gyms of Iowa and New Hampshire is what leads the press to really believe this is all about running for class president.]

Anyway, great job by Clinton, and despite his "staggering loss" by a couple of percentage points, Obama is still in the contest. The next month should be exciting and should make for an even stronger Democratic nominee when all's said and done.

* And wouldn't we all love to see Heather's alternative column -- the one where she writes how New Hampshire voters can't stand to see a woman blubber, as she quotes (as she always does) Tracy to Hepburn in the classic study in misogyny, "Adam's Rib," “Here we go again, the old juice. Guaranteed heart melter. A few female tears, stronger than any acid.”

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Three days of love and...well...the music...not so much.



Labels: ,

Man date

Dana Milbank's piece from this morning pretty much says it all:



Political reporters are apparently pretty easy. Pour em a cup of coffee and let them sit near you, and they're like putty in your hand.

But this is just the bestest, most exquisitely perfect part of the whole article:

Instead, he's looking ahead, criticizing the "naive" foreign policy views of Obama and describing himself as a "steady hand on the tiller" in unstable times.

As if to reinforce the point, an aide hands McCain a BlackBerry so he can read a report about a near-confrontation in the Straits of Hormuz between U.S. and Iranian ships. Without pausing, McCain, who once sang the words "Bomb Iran" to the tune "Barbara Ann," dictates a measured statement about "the nature of the Iranian regime."

Time's Carney interrupts. "Shouldn't we just bomb them?"

"First," McCain replies, "we ought to broadcast that Beach Boys song."

That Jay Carney -- always the nuanced thinker.


The grinding and the posting up

Obama gets it exactly right.

Meanwhile, Romney can't resist the basketball analogies.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, January 07, 2008

Blue Monday, Big River edition

Password-protected rights?

It's Monday, so it must be Adam Liptak day (until the 15th, when his columns move to Tuesday).

Better make sure your files are encrypted if you plan to cross the border with anything on your laptop you'd rather not share with the U.S. government.

It is true that the government should have great leeway in searching physical objects at the border. But the law requires a little more — a “reasonable suspicion” — when the search is especially invasive, as when the human body is involved.

Searching a computer, said Jennifer M. Chacón, a law professor at the University of California, Davis, “is fairly intrusive.” Like searches of the body, she said, such “an invasive search should require reasonable suspicion.”

An interesting supporting brief filed in the Arnold case by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives and the Electronic Frontier Foundation said there have to be some limits on the government’s ability to acquire information.

“Under the government’s reasoning,” the brief said, “border authorities could systematically collect all of the information contained on every laptop computer, BlackBerry and other electronic device carried across our national borders by every traveler, American or foreign.” That is, the brief said, “simply electronic surveillance after the fact.”

The government went even further in the case of Sebastien Boucher, a Canadian who lives in New Hampshire. Mr. Boucher crossed the Canadian border by car about a year ago, and a customs agent noticed a laptop in the back seat.

Asked whether he had child pornography on his laptop, Mr. Boucher said he was not sure. He said he downloaded a lot of pornography but deleted child pornography when he found it.

Some of the files on Mr. Boucher’s computer were encrypted using a program called Pretty Good Privacy, and Mr. Boucher helped the agent look at them, apparently by entering an encryption code. The agent said he saw lots of revolting pornography involving children.

The government seized the laptop. But when it tried to open the encrypted files again, it could not. A grand jury instructed Mr. Boucher to provide the password.

But a federal magistrate judge quashed that subpoena in November, saying that requiring Mr. Boucher to provide it would violate his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Last week, the government appealed.

The magistrate judge, Jerome J. Niedermeier of Federal District Court in Burlington, Vt., used an analogy from Supreme Court precedent. It is one thing to require a defendant to surrender a key to a safe and another to make him reveal its combination.

Actually, this leads me to a question: anyone know of any good encryption programs for iBooks?

Labels: ,


Bizarro world.

Read Chris Hayes on the psychology of the press corps here. I'd add that it's a bit astonishing to watch the real-time narrative construction that went on at last night's debate. I must have heard the term "meltdown" in reference to Hillary 65 times. And I talked to reporters who would literally say, "I thought she did okay, but I just misjudged it" -- the aggregate conclusion of the corps became some sort of objective, or at least agreed-upon, truth that the outliers measured themselves against. Very, very odd. Particularly because the part that much of the press liked least -- her heated recitation of the programs she's fought for -- came off, to me, as one of her best moments.

Labels: ,

The only thing

Well, now we know what the evil geniuses behind the NYTimes opinion page had in mind when hiring William the Bloody Kristol. He's there to serve as an illustration of whatever Krugman happens to be writing about that day. To wit...


The unemployment report on Friday was brutally bad. Unemployment rose in December, while job creation was minimal — and it’s highly likely, for technical reasons, that the job number will be revised down, showing an actual decline in employment.

It’s the latest piece of bad news about an economy in which the employment situation has actually been deteriorating for the past year. It’s no longer possible to hope that the effects of the housing slump will remain “contained,” as one of 2007’s buzzwords had it. The levees have been breached, and the repercussions of the housing crisis are spreading across the economy as a whole.

It’s not certain, even now, that we’ll have a formal recession, although given the news on Friday you have to say that the odds are that we will. But what is clear is that 2008 will be a troubled year for the U.S. economy — and that as a result, the overall economic record of the Bush years will have been dreary at best: two and a half years of slumping employment, three and a half years of good but not great growth, and two more years of renewed economic distress.

The November election will take place against that background of economic distress, which ought to be good news for candidates running on a platform of change.

But the opponents of change, those who want to keep the Bush legacy intact, are not without resources. In fact, they’ve already made their standard pivot when things turn bad — the pivot from hype to fear. And in case you haven’t noticed, they’re very, very good at the fear thing.

As if on cue, Kristol:

Thank you, Senator Obama. You’ve defeated Senator Clinton in Iowa. It looks as if you’re about to beat her in New Hampshire. There will be no Clinton Restoration. A nation turns its grateful eyes to you.

But gratitude for sparing us a third Clinton term only goes so far. Who, inquiring minds want to know, is going to spare us a first Obama term? After all, for all his ability and charm, Barack Obama is still a liberal Democrat. Some of us would much prefer a non-liberal and non-Democratic administration. We don’t want to increase the scope of the nanny state, we don’t want to undo the good done by the appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, and we really don’t want to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory in Iraq.

For me, therefore, the most interesting moment in Saturday night’s Republican debate at St. Anselm College was when the candidates were asked what arguments they would make if they found themselves running against Obama in the general election.

The best answer came, not surprisingly, from the best Republican campaigner so far — Mike Huckabee. He began by calmly mentioning his and Obama’s contrasting views on issues from guns to life to same-sex marriage. This served to remind Republicans that these contrasts have been central to G.O.P. success over the last quarter-century, and to suggest that Huckabee could credibly and comfortably make the socially conservative case in an electorally advantageous way.

Nanny state is, I guess, a euphemism for universal health care. As for the rest, yep, having nothing else to run on, expect the GOP candidates and the whores who shill for them to scream "teh gays marrying!" and "they want to take your guns!" Kristol is letting his slip show in admitting that those have been the defining issues "central" to GOP success over the last quarter-century.

Let's let Krugman conclude, shall we?

The whole point of scare tactics is that they can work even in the face of inconvenient facts.

And what I’m not sure about is whether the Democrats are ready for the fight they’re about to face.

Not to put too fine a point on it, Barack Obama won his impressive victory in Iowa with a sunny, upbeat message of change.

But there’s a powerful political faction in this country that understands very well that any real change will create losers as well as winners. In particular, any serious progressive reform of health care, let alone a broader attempt to reduce middle-class insecurity and inequality, will have to mean higher taxes on the affluent. And members of that faction will do whatever it takes to scare people into believing that change means disaster for the economy.

I don’t think they’ll succeed. But it would be a big mistake to assume that they won’t.

Labels: ,

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Borges and the Internet

Jorge Luis Borges, a chronicler of the imagined ancient past may have been chronicling an imagined World Wide Web present.

I doubt, though, that the sightless seer could have foreseen this.


Clinton's moment

Fair tax

At long last, Huckabee's regressive sales tax plan is getting some attention.

Under the plan, Americans would pay only one federal tax, which would be applied to just about everything they buy: not just the goods people buy at stores on which most states assess a sales tax, but nearly all services, including health care and insurance, the purchase of a new home or rental of an apartment, even things like a teenager mowing a lawn or baby-sitting for a neighbor.

But the FairTax, as its many fervent backers call it, is not as simple as its supporters describe. And, to most tax experts who have looked at the proposal, it is anything but fair. For one, its burden would fall disproportionately on middle-income people.

Still, the plan has undeniable appeal. “There is a yearning across the political system to make the tax system better,” said William G. Gale, a critic of the proposal who is a leading tax economist at the Brookings Institution, the liberal-leaning research organization in Washington. “Right now the only people talking about tax reform are the sales tax advocates.”

Supporters, including a handful of tax experts like Laurence J. Kotlikoff, an economist at Boston University, contend that a rate of about 23 percent, applied across the board, would bring in just as much money to the Treasury as all the taxes the federal government now collects.

It is not the same as a normal sales tax, however. Under the proposal, the tax is included first. That means a $100 item would cost $130, or 30 percent more. The plan’s supporters say that works out as a 23 percent rate because $30 is 23 percent of $130. Americans would no longer face federal withholding from their paychecks. But most analysts say the tax rate necessary to replace current federal revenues, under any likely plan, would actually need to be much higher. By some estimates it could add 40 percent, if not more, to the cost of living.

Whatever the rate, critics say, a steep federal retail tax, piled on top of existing state sales taxes, would encourage widespread illegal tax evasion, black market transactions and other forms of cheating, creating a cycle that would require even higher tax rates.

What is irritating, though, is the constant repetition in the press that Americans are dissatisfied with federal tax policy. I know they're told they should be dissatisfied, but poll after poll indicates that, yes, it's complicated doing your taxes, but most people don't feel they pay too much. Paying a sales tax on their baby sitter, though, will surely leave them mighty unhappy.

Wait, check that. Some people are dissatisfied. Guess who?

“The public desperately desires a better way to collect federal taxes for the common good and recognizes the current system as both inherently flawed and then further corrupted by inside-the-Beltway machinations,” Leo E. Linbeck Jr., the multimillionaire founder of Americans for Fair Taxation, wrote in a recent letter defending the decade-old proposal. “It is understood by those who are joining our effort that overcoming the self-interest of the increasingly disdained Congress and the army of income tax system defenders is no small task.”

For Mr. Huckabee, the sales tax plan also helps provide political cover against attacks from antitax Republicans, who suspect, based on his actions as governor, that he might be tempted to raise taxes in the White House.

“It would certainly help limit runaway government spending,” Mr. Kotlikoff said. “Everybody would understand that there is a single tax: the government spends more, everybody’s tax rate will go up.”

Like any tax on consumption, the biggest burden, comparatively, would fall on the poor. To help compensate for this, the plan would provide a monthly check from the government to every American household, rich and poor alike.

The rebate amount would be set to equal what a household living at the poverty level would pay in taxes, leaving some of the poor better off and cushioning the proposal’s impact on the middle class.

But, apart from the administrative nightmares associated with giving every household a rebate, it would still not prevent transferring a substantial part of the current tax burden from those with annual incomes above $200,000, who tend to save a large part of their income rather than spending it, to those earning less.

And why would a federal sales tax be any more of a crimp on Congressional spending that the current system? We're not told.

Labels: ,

It's not too late

There are scoops, such as those regularly found in Sy Hersh articles, in which he painstakingly uncovers the views of low level analysts, fearful of the direction that administration/Pentagon/CIA leadership is taking us. This story, from the paper who brought you Judy Miller and aluminum tubes, while intended to look like such a scoop, doesn't quite feel like one. Instead, it feels like a trial balloon from our incompetent, frightened, and rudderless leaders.

WASHINGTON — President Bush’s senior national security advisers are debating whether to expand the authority of the Central Intelligence Agency and the military to conduct far more aggressive covert operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

The debate is a response to intelligence reports that Al Qaeda and the Taliban are intensifying efforts there to destabilize the Pakistani government, several senior administration officials said.

Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and a number of President Bush’s top national security advisers met Friday at the White House to discuss the proposal, which is part of a broad reassessment of American strategy after the assassination 10 days ago of the Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. There was also talk of how to handle the period from now to the Feb. 18 elections, and the aftermath of those elections.

Several of the participants in the meeting argued that the threat to the government of President Pervez Musharraf was now so grave that both Mr. Musharraf and Pakistan’s new military leadership were likely to give the United States more latitude, officials said. But no decisions were made, said the officials, who declined to speak for attribution because of the highly delicate nature of the discussions.

Many of the specific options under discussion are unclear and highly classified. Officials said that the options would probably involve the C.I.A. working with the military’s Special Operations forces.

The Bush administration has not formally presented any new proposals to Mr. Musharraf, who gave up his military role last month, or to his successor as the army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who the White House thinks will be more sympathetic to the American position than Mr. Musharraf. Early in his career, General Kayani was an aide to Ms. Bhutto while she was prime minister and later led the Pakistani intelligence service.

But at the White House and the Pentagon, officials see an opportunity in the changing power structure for the Americans to advocate for the expanded authority in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed country. “After years of focusing on Afghanistan, we think the extremists now see a chance for the big prize — creating chaos in Pakistan itself,” one senior official said.

Labels: ,

Friday, January 04, 2008


I miss Joe Strummer.


Hearting Huckabee

Oh, my, there is great unhappiness in Wingnutonia today (thank you, thank you, Blog Report).

The Anchoress.

It’s baloney. It’s hype. Iowa doesn’t mean anything, and I’m not convinced it ever has, but it’s been a very long (too long) election season and we’ve got 11 months to go, so Iowa has been pimped and played up as the be-all-and-end all - the staggeringly important end to the beginning of election ‘08.

Don Surber

The winners in Iowa, in order: Mike Huckabee, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Fred Thompson and John McCain.

The losers in Iowa in order: Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton and Mitt Romney.

Ron Paul got 10%. So?

2008 is off to a lousy start for Republicans as Adam Nagourney of the New York Times reported:

An estimated 220,000 Democrats showed up at caucus sites, compared to 124,000 in 2004. About 114,000 Republicans turned out. The last contested Republican caucuses in 2000 drew about 88,000. George W. Bush, then the governor of Texas, won.

Put another way, Mrs. Clinton’s nearly 65,000 votes were more than half the Republican total. Kos pointed out all 3 Democrats beat the Huckster. Bad.

There’s the mountain.


Tammy Bruce.

Uh, the GOP was in disarray before Iowa, illustrated by the Summer of Shamnesty and GWB being more concerned with Mexico's well-being than with ours. Considering Republicanism died in the 2006 election, and the "party leader" George W. Bush is a liberal who ended up turning Reagan Conservatism on its ear, we shouldn't be so surprised the GOP is confused after Iowa. We, the People, have been confused by them for years. If they actually had some sort of leadership, didn't have such contempt for the people, and weren't more concerned with Saudi Arabia's profits than our homeland security and sovereignty, maybe they'd have their act together.

Part of my support for Giuliani is based in the fact that he's not from the Washington establishment and could represent a return to the Reagan Coalition. Huckabee, on the other hand, is the complete opposite of what Reagan stood for, and is an embarrassment to the legacy of President Reagan.

Stop the ACLU.

I'm not worried about Huckabee though. Just because enough Iowans don't listen to the wisdom of Rush Limbaugh[sic] most Americans do. [emphasis mine]

Sundries Shack.

Apparently, the journalistic and punditry worlds have lost their ever-loving minds over the Iowa primary last night. Take a peek at memeorandum for this morning and witness the hyperventilation for yourself. Here are a few samples.

The Fuckwit.

My Townhall column today is about how Romney can pull this off, but even if he clarifies and amplifies the message of running on Reaganism, he'll need the party regulars to get off the bench. Independent-powered victories for McCain in New Hampshire and Michigan won't matter if they are understood as such, but Romney has to let the party of Reagan know that both Huckabee and McCain want it broken up and sold off in pieces. He or Rudy need to win in Florida, or achieve a three way tie with McCain to put the campaign back into the hands of the people who built the party over the past 28 years. O'Sullivan is absolutely right on: "It seems clear that we should do all we can to help revive the Romney campaign."

I'll be listening to Rush, Sean, Laura and the rest (my friend Michael Medved has thrown in with McCain) and reading the blogs to see if surrender has set in, or whether the coalition that Reagan built is worth fighting for. [emphasis, moi]

MORE: Richard Viguerie sends out an email-blast to the effect that Huckabee's win is bad for the GOP: "Mike Huckabee is a Christian socialist. He is a good man, but with a Big Government heart. He is the most liberal of all the Republican presidential candidates on economic issues."

[Reynolds, by the way, is a particularly engaging read today, as we learn from various right wingers how unhappy "the netroots" are with Obama's victory. Guess I'd better go check in with subcommander Kos...]

And, of course, K-Lo.

It's one cold night in Iowa, dude.

So, what are Rush's marching orders at this juncture?



I still don't think McCain can win the nomination -- campaign finance will always tar him as some sort of sixties radical for a lot of people. But he's had no problem getting help from the big money behind the Swift Boaters of 2004 (read the whole thing), and, for the moment, it doesn't appear Romney's going to be able to buy an election. Anyhoo, Matt Yglesias has some thoughts on everyone's favorite napalm delivery guy.

The dilemma is, of course, the national press corps acts collectively as a campaign volunteer whenever he's covered. But, should Obama's fortunes continue to improve, he may be able to negate a lot of that stuff. Obama and his wife may treat the press as the nuisances they are, but it would be hard for them to create the kind of narrative about him that they used to help do in Al Gore.


WWI blogger

This is a fascinating look back at the life of a British soldier in the First World War.

Labels: ,

Plot. Thickens.

This Obama fellow...hmmm.

As Josh Marshall noted this morning, Obama's victory is much, much more significant than Huckabee's. 60% of Republican caucus goers were self-identified evangelicals. He won't have that advantage in New Hampshire or even South Carolina. Obama, on the other hand, inspired a huge turnout and beat Clinton in virtually every demographic.

Expect, in the coming days, to hear more hints about madrasas and middle names.

Expect, in the coming months, to watch MoDo descend ever more deeply into self-parody.

Labels: ,

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The holy highway

What is wrong with these people?

The woman who came up with the concept of "Light the Highway" is a Texas minister named Cindy Jacobs. Holy highway?

She says she can't be sure Interstate 35 really is what is mentioned in the Bible but says she received a revelation to start this campaign after "once again reading Isaiah, Chapter 35."

Jacobs also points out that perhaps there is a link between the area near this highway and tragedies that have happened in history, such as the bridge collapse on I-35 in Minneapolis last August and the assassination of JFK 44 years ago near I-35 in Dallas. That's why prayer certainly can't hurt, she adds...

Well, as Rick Perlstein implies, if members of the religious right don't believe in paying taxes, how else do you conduct highway maintenance?


Eye of the needle

Just what we need, another messianic, self-obsessed, whining, millionaire/billionaire New York mayor who wants to "lead" on the national stage.

He offered one of his auto-pilot denials of interest (“I am not a candidate”), then tossed off one of his broadest critiques yet of the declared field just as the voting is finally about to get under way in Iowa, saying that none of the candidates had sufficiently explained how he or she would solve pressing domestic and international issues.

Mr. Bloomberg obliquely attacked potential rivals like Hillary Rodham Clinton (“Some people are in favor of free trade and then walk away from it”), Mitt Romney (“One guy had a plan that we don’t know if it will work, but then he walks away from his own plan,” referring to health care) and Rudolph W. Giuliani (“‘I’m going to be tougher than the next guy’ is not an answer to what you would do”). Then he cautioned against reading his comments as that sort of critique.

“Don’t say, ‘O.K., Bloomberg’s criticizing A, B or C on either side,’” he said. “It’s all of them.”

Like Krugman, I don't get it. His criticisms are about the Republican candidates. The issues on which he feels we need bipartisan (or tripartisan, I guess) agreement on -- health care, the deficit, trade -- are all areas in which a large majority of Americans say they trust Democrats more to address.

But I also don't get this fascination with Bloomberg. His time as mayor has been unspectacular, with his major accomplishment having erased the $5 billion budget deficit Giuliani left him by raising property taxes.

Labels: , ,

Weblog Commenting by Site Meter